A note from Eleni [Read more…]
Archives for February 2010
Do you have a little ballerina in the house? When she is barefooted, does looks like she is walking like she has high heels on?
Toe walking in young school-age children can have a variety of causes. If passive dorsiflexion of the foot results in ankle clonus (rapid, rhythmic contractions of the calf muscles), spasticity is present, and it is likely that the child has a form of cerebral palsy. There is no spasticity present with idiopathic toe walking. [Read more…]
Sometimes, it just starts like this, with a pile of notecards, a laptop, and a big cup of coffee.
Playwright/performer Sean Christopher Lewis (You saw him here in Killadelphia and heard his words in ConAm’s Annual Xmas Spectacular.) is in the middle of a long run in Philadelphia, where Killadelphia is known as City of Numbers. A week ago he posted on the InterAct Theatre Blog about his experience in Philly and what it’s like to be a one-man, touring performer. The post is painfully honest, and bracingly sincere.
So, two weeks in and two weeks left to go…
It’s been a total experience coming back to Philly with CITY OF NUMBERS- ups and downs… It’s been strange in terms of coming to a place you once lived, walking around the places that you used to know, seeing people you once hung out with everyday. There’s a ghostly-ness to that. It’s unsettling in its own right.
Touring theater is not easy. And solo theater is even harder. You’re by yourself, by design and all the good and bad that happens you basically have to sort through on your own. There is something to be missed about having cast mates nearby to make a joke with, get a beer with- to have community with. I think many of us who get into theater do it for that reason- community.
My hope was to have that with the audience. They are basically your acting partner in a show like this and the audiences have been wonderful: word of mouth, numerous twitter, facebook and blog posts, lengthy talk back sessions and emails thanking me. That’s been amazing. Last night we had a girl from Deborah Block’s theater class at Temple who said: “I didn’t like plays before this class and I heard this was a one man show and I didn’t want to go but this was amazing. And I’m so glad I did.” This may seem self congratulatory at first- but I share it for a specific reason: this is why you do plays. This is why you share them.
A few nights ago a woman I mention in the piece named Meg Guerrerio- a close friend of a victim discussed in the play came and stayed for the talk back and said: “thank you.” In a week or so I should be going into her school near Kensington to move some desks out of the way and do the piece for her students. A group out of Constitution High invited me in the other day and it was fantastic to do the show for them and then work with those students as well… kids from areas that I talk about in the piece- kids who don’t ever see the verbatim story of their neighborhoods on stage.
We’ve had sold out houses which is wonderful. We’ve had a few great reviews, a few mixed and a few antagonistic and that’s always, well, not disappointing but a reality.
You know artists never want to talk about the bad reviews (the good ones we’re usually cool with! lol) but the bad are important too. If only to remind you about the process of this career. When I chose this route it wasn’t for fame (and clearly not for fortune) but more specifically for the pursuit of a more honest and realized self. Heady right? I liked that as a craftsman you continued to grow in your work and that each piece led to the next. And crafting art, as we know, has no grading scale. Basically, the same show the girl from Temple loves is the same one a critic attacks and is the same show still that another few critics in Ohio and NYC loved.
In the end if you believe anything that anyone says- you believe it all.
So, you are again, left with yourself.
I can say quite honestly the piece is the best and most challenging thing I have done. As a performer the run has been a gift. I’ve seen myself grow within the piece- all the muscles of an actor developing under the stress of no net- my writing continuously informed by the thoughtful and lively discussion afterwards.
I’m thinking now this is probably not the blog post I was expected to write! I’m sure it’ll be a bit of “don’t write about that!” But I see this really as an open letter to people who want to do what I’m doing. I mean that’s how I learned: by reading about Bogosion and Spalding Gray, devouring interviews and dreaming of working in that tradition. I learned from how they dealt with being loved and being reviled (often for the same show in the very same city) and saw their strength and determination as something worth emulating.
And this run has been an experience in that. So, fruitful and eye opening. Like I said- a true gift. Yet, it’s important to talk about the realities of what we go through when we live a life like this.
So, if somewhere there is someone reading this- manuscript, performance piece or anything else in their mind- I urge that young writer out there chiseling at their own masterpiece to be strong. Some people will love what you do. Some people will hate it. Some have more public voices than others but in the end you will be left with you. And the things you have made. People come through and review you every night when the show ends and they clap or they come up to discuss the work with you.
And it is work to remember. A task building towards something greater.
And on that note- thank you Philadelphia- you’ve been an incredible host.
Jean Louise Finch – Emily Bach
“Scout” Finch – Emily Cipriani
Jem Finch – Lake Wilburn
Atticus Finch – Artie Isaac
Calpurnia – Shanelle Marie
Maudie Atkinson – Judy Parker
Stephanie Crawford – Danielle Mari
Mrs. Dubose – Margaret Riggle Collins
Nathan Radley/ Boo Radley – Tony Auseon
Dill – Adam Crawford
Heck Tate – Tim Dougherty
Judge Taylor – Ron Weber
Reverend Sykes – Laron Lee Hudson
Mayella Ewell – Molly Auseon
Bob Ewell – Bernard Wilburn
Walter Cunningham – Carl Novak
Mr. Gilmer – Fred Norris
Tom Robinson – Gregory Kimbro
Helen Robinson – Anita Davis
Thank you to all who came out to audition. It was wonderful to have so many talented people at the callbacks and it was extremely difficult to cast. Thanks again for all your hard work, patience and professionalism this weekend.
Available Light Theatre presents
“Welcome to the Saudi Arabia of Coal”
an original play by Jeff Biggers
created by The Coal Free Future Project
@ The Columbus Performing Arts Center
549 Franklin Ave.
Saturday, February 6th, 8PM
Featuring Jeff Biggers, Ben Evans and Stephanie Pistello
Directed by Stephanie Pistello
Film projection by Ben Evans
Set, Light and Sound Design by Coal Free Future Project
ABOUT THE PLAY
Inspired by Reckoning at Eagle Creek: The Secret Legacy of Coal in the Heartland, written by Project member Jeff Biggers, “Welcome to the Saudi Arabia of Coal” is an original and groundbreaking multimedia production that brings a national audience into the frontlines of the coalfields and mountaintop removal issue today. The play draws from real-life experience and documentation, and seeks to recover forgotten history in our nation’s dark legacy of coal mining.
Based at the home of Marie and Hovie, a young couple living in the mountain holler of Eagle Creek, the play chronicles their attempts to come to grips with their conflicting fates, when their family’s 150-year-old homestead is threatened by a planned mountaintop removal operation.
With a backdrop of film montages and historically-based satirical faux-mercials by filmmaker/actor Ben Evans, and a sountrack of select songs by musician/songwriter Ben Sollee, “Welcome to the Saudi Arabia of Coal” is a rare journey into the lives of those on the coalfield frontlines, and an entertaining, informative and illuminating theatrical production on the true cost of mountaintop removal and coal mining to our land and citizenry.
Read more and view the trailer: www.CoalFreeFutureProject.org
ABOUT THE PROJECT
The Coal Free Future Project is theatre production company comprised of artists and activists who are dedicated to ending mountaintop removal, and inspiring Americans to begin to envision and create a roadmap for a coal free future in their communities. Current members are Jeff Biggers, Ben Evans, Heather Doyle, Christa Faulkner, Stephanie Pistello and Ben Sollee.
To inquire about joining the CFFP team, or if you are interested in bringing the show to your town, please contact us at CoalFreeFutureProject@gmail.com
*The Coal Free Future Project is a sponsored project of Fractured Atlas, a non-profit arts service organization.*